Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do Poor Whites Even Exist?!?

This post's title is a rhetorical question. Of course poor whites exist, but not that you'd know so if you're informed by the mainstream media. While Ronald Reagan was successful in painting urban black women as "welfare queens", whites receive nearly 2/3 of all welfare benefits administered by the federal government. Still, Shaniqua Jackson, not Samantha McMullen, is the face of American poverty.

Last Friday's edition of ABC's 20/20 tried to shed some light on the woes of dirt poor rural white Americans, a group of folks so routinely (and IMHO, intentionally) ignored they're damn near considered invisible. And while A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains is a fairly nuanced portrait of life in the hills of Kentucky, it both informs and pisses off at the same time.

The promo trailer.



A young girl discusses her Mom's drug problem.



Notice how Whoopi is literally biting her tongue as Sawyer pitches her special on The View. Peep her under the table remark about the tooth-rot. I love me some Whoopi, mane.



I'll admit, despite having grown up in an area with lots of impoverished white folks, even I didn't realize the depths of the issues in Appalachia. Children out-of-wedlock, awful graduation rates, incest, generational curses, excessive prescription drug abuse, abysmal heath statistics, rampant crime, broken families, and joblessness abound. If you closed your eyes, you'd swear they were talking about Detroit. It's all packaged together in a pretty intriguing (albeit depressing) 60 minutes.

The thing that sorta pisses you off is how the one hour story is told. ABC's Diane Sawyer, a Kentuckian (from Louisville, not the hills) herself, tells a well-rendered story of the invisible residents of her homestate with the sort of compassion and restraint seldom afforded when the media depicts poor minorities.

The drug problem is blamed on pharmaceutical companies who systematically dump OxyContin in the mountains as a catch-all pain reliever.[1] The declining coal industry leads to unemployment. Poorly-funded schools lead to high school dropouts. An epidemic of toothrot is blamed on Moutain Dew addiction.[2] A football player who feels alienated and leaves behind a college scholarship (after just 8 weeks) does so because of the pressures from back home, not because he found himself suddenly overmatched on the gridiron. These issues all accumulate and take their toll on the ties that bind the families featured. It's almost as if there's a logical explanation for why everyone's so f*cked the f*ck up. They're victims of circumstance and products of their environment. Personal responsibility isn't even discussed. The word "bootstraps" isn't uttered a single time.

Contrast this with the way poor blacks are blamed for everything. Pumping drugs into their communities. Leaving their children behind with single moms. Killing each other. Leaching off the government when they should really just get off their lazy black asses and do better. Hell, some folks are even blaming Negroes for the recent mortgage crisis. No, really.



Never mind the fact that merely 6% of all "risky" loans were given to minorities. It sounds so much better to say the gubb'ment was forced at gunpoint to hand these shifty, lazy Negroes keys to a duplex, for fear of otherwise being tabbed as racist. As if the GOP was ever concerned about being accused of racism.[3] Also never mind the fact that the Republican who presided over this nonsense was the main dude claiming that minority home ownership reaching all-time high levels in the mid 2000's was proof of his commitment to leveling the "soft bigotry of low expectations". That's right, when you're writing revisionist history, you can have it both ways. Those are the rules.

The next portrayal of blacks as "victims of circumstance" I see at the hands of the MSM will be the first. I'm not holding my breath, because that would be pointless. A similar Diane Sawyer expose about poor minorities in Camden, NJ a few years ago was pockmarked with the typical "violent, babypoppin', lazy gubb'ment leachers" nonsense. And lest anyone get it confused: inner-city poverty is hardly an exclusively black thang. If you've been to Fishtown in Philly[4], or any random backstreet from B-More or Beantown, you'll know exactly what I mean. You can attempt to marginalize it to your liking, but white poverty isn't just some epidemic confined to a handfulla' folks up in dem' dar' hills. Lets change that tired narrative for once and for all, please.

Just so nobody gets it confused, I'm emphatically not saying black folks don't need to claim personal responsibility for their own destiny. Of course I agree with that, this blog more or less says so everyday! The problem is, when that very same set of expectations isn't extended to poor whites, we've got a really big disconnect. And I don't know bout' ya'll, but I smell a Grand Hu$tle here.

Question: Did you see ABC's A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains? Why do you think the MSM portrays poor blacks as shiftless and lazy, yet chooses to completely deny the existence of whites living in even more dire situations?

Watch ABC News 20/20 A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains [ABC.com]

[1] Hmmm, but saying the gubb'ment might could have something to do with the crack epidemic in inner cities is batshit crazy?!?

[2] No, seriously. They more or less blamed toothlessness on the soft drink industry.

[3] Barack The Magic Negro CD's anyone?

[4] I had the misfortune of taking a couple of wrong turns off I-95 once. That sh*t looked like Beirut with white people. I had no idea this sorta thing even existed before then.

41 AverageComments™:

Anonymiss said...

Hey AB,

That episode was recorded to my DVR and I deleted it without watching for the usual patterns that you noticed in reporting. I just can't take watching journalists give poor Whites humanity while not reciprocating the same treatment to poor Blacks.

I just peeped an article where Michelle Malkin's hating on Henrietta Hughes for being helped by the gov't. It's the usual "personal responsibility" mumbo jumbo. Granted, Malkin's not a journalist, but the (mis)treatment's similar.

Ciara said...

Thank you for articulating what I've been trying to say for the past two days but couldn't because school has knocked all of my brain askew: White poor people are seen as victims. Black poor people are seen as the cause of their own dismay.

I remember watching Diane Sawyer on The View and she talked about this story. At first thought I'm thinking: Good, show middle America (White) people that your cousins are living, as you said, "f*cked the f*ck up". Yep, it ain't all peachy keen for y'all.

But then I started thinking: Okay, well if White America does see this they'll be all outraged and wanna do something but yet, they probably drive past some of the worst improvished minority neighboroods and don't even think ONCE about what is going on between those blocks.

Yes, it's messed up that ANYONE has to live like this. No child should have to come home to drug abuse and then go back to an inadequate school. That's not right. But that is something that we ALL have to deal with and that we all have to take responsibility for and to recognize that our government and public policy officials are guilty of neglect. Don't make it seem, like in the special, that there are a litany of excuses for one group and a litany of persecutions for another.

Dubra said...

Please read 'Dear Hunting With Jesus' by Joe Bageant. The author discusses (in a quite readable way) why and how poor whites are ignored though encouraged to vote against their best interests based on class.

Poor, dysfunctional, pitiful, and neglected whites are only trotted out when things (social decay and economic collapse) is truly desperate and creeping up closer to the striving Middle Class.

Expect to see more pitiful white folks. Poor blacks are used to only define dysfunction as a product of stereotypical negatives that support the historical 'shiftlessness' of the barefooted 'low-class' blacks who don't pull themselves up by their mythical bootstraps.

Shady_Grady said...

Since some folks believe that Blacks on average suffer from greater self-inflicted pathology than whites, it makes sense that when faced with whites with the same or greater pathology they would ignore, downplay or explain away the circumstances.

Dok said...

AB,

I THINK Shady_grady said what I was going to say, but if not let me say my piece.

To answer your question, i think the reason they portray "us" that way is due to the percentage of blacks (in terms of the number of blacks versus the entire population of black people) that are on welfare versus the percentage of whites on welfare. while whites may make up 2/3 of welfare recipients, the percentage of THEIR community isn't nearly as high as our community. I mean white people are always going to have a higher number of people on any given program, per se. BUT in the case of welfare, if you look at how many black are on welfare versus the population of black people, it will probably be higher.

so if the percentage is higher in the black community, it is more of a "problem", if you will. Just like if you had the chance to help a bunch of poor black kids versus helping a bunch of poor white kids, you would help the poor black kids partly because you know that they more than likely need your help MORE. I wouldn't say this is racist, but just recognizing where the bigger problem lies. As a Christian, I want to help ALL people regardless of color, but i know there is a higher percentage of minorities that need my help more.

i hope that makes sense.

Dok said...

and by the way, my post above in now way gives 20/20 an excuse for giving the "mountain" people every excuse in the book. i was just trying to explain why it is seem as more of an epidemic in the black community versus other communities.

spool32 said...

The point about "per capita" numbers and raw numbers is a very valid one so far as comparison goes. I would rather reframe it altogether and discard race when talking about generational poverty.

The victim-hood angle annoys me dramatically. Some of our greatest Americans have come from this very background, and they didn't become great through pity or government handouts.

Kirby said...

I saw this ep of 20/20 and walked away feeling pretty much the same way as you. The compassion afforded them could be contributed to the fact that,IMO, a white woman was telling the story. It's been my observation that people never want to see their own cast in a dim or dark light to outsiders.

Whites are just as protective of their image as we, blacks, are. The only difference is that a lot of them are in positions to lend that compassionate point of view to MSM. Look what happens when a white girl comes up missing, HLN loses their damn minds.

I feel that the MSM portrays us the way they do for the same reason. I'm not sure how many minority producers and executives exists but I'm pretty sure its not many. Just look at our representation on television period. I remember there was a time when everyday of the week there was a black or minority show on tv. Not so much now. Now the only time you see a minority is on a "reality" show acting an ass and further expanding racial and social stereotypes to middle America. Flavor Flav went from the most militant groups in Hip Hop history, a group that literally scared the hell out of white folks to the point that they got a letter from the government, to having black woman play themselves on tv fighting over his ugly ass.

the uppity negro said...

Let's face it: capitalism is designed so only a few make it--black or white.

I'm not sure who on this blog read Malcolm Gladwell's latest book Outliers which really said that a lot of people that we consider "made it" really just did what they did at the right time. Other folks did it, but it's just luck of the draw.

Spool, come on, even you know that for every ONE person that works hard and "makes it"--black or white or yellow or red (to borrow Joseph Lowery's words)--there are thousands of others who worked hard and were just as qualified, but just weren't "chosen" so to speak.

Because let's just say when I drove up 95 this summer and saw the interstate cut straight through Chester, PA, I realised yet again how much of a systemic problem we have.

Problem number one: rich, white, straight males have a tendency to not care about poorer people--period. Problem number two: the middle class, and upper middle class seem to only care about maintaining their middleclassness (something Trinity and Jeremiah Wright declared as a problem worth looking at). Problem number three: I'm speculating here, but I'm sure the good white folk of Appalachia are quite clear that they're better off than blacks.

Again, the overarching theme is that America has a poor people problem.

The last time we had someone try and start a movement to address the poor--or as the Christian sacred scriptures say "the least of these"--he turned up shot on his hotel balcony.

Monie said...

(Disclaimer: I am not an Obama hater.)

The narrative that America loves most is that Black people are irresponsible and lazy. This has been around since we were dragged onto this continent; this despite the fact that we were forced to work for free under the most brutal circumstances imaginable for 4oo years. How did anyone get lazy from that I don't know.

Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint must be acknowledged as being partly responsible for taking the mainstream narrative of lazy trifling Blacks being responsible for their own misery and giving it credence in the Black community.

This narrative also made its way into the Presidential election when Barack Obama chastised Black Americans for basically being lazy and irresponsible every time he spoke in front of a majority Black audience. These audiences accepted what Obama said as being truth and accepted their chastisement.

My point is that the problem isn't really that the MSM paints us as lazy welfare kings and queens; it's that we have now internalized this narrative and believe it to be true.

MissJay said...

@Monie

To play devil's advocate here, it is partly true. Some of "us" are lazy welfare kings and queens. I believe that when those people (Bill, Barack, Alvin, etc) talk about it, expecially to a majority black audience, it's not really them making us think we're all lazy. We really do need to take into consideration that there are those among us who seriously mooch off the system and find loop holes to collect more government/tax payer money as their full time job.

The biggest issue here is the fact that there are plenty of whites in the same boat but not getting called out about it. It's just not fair. But it's life.

I didn't personally see the story but my coworker was telling me about it yesterday (I swear I hardly ever get a holiday off...I need a gubbment job). The part about the mountain dew rotting children's teeth! WTF!! Who gives little children mountain dew?!?! Take responsibility for your own actions. If you can get some kind of gvnt assistance then take that WIC check and get that baby some damn apple juice!

Monie said...

@Miss Jay

Yeah but, about 75% of African Americans are middle class. So why do we spend so much time, a disproportionate amount of time, discussing the welfare kings and queens?

And of that 25%, who aren't middle class, how many are really mooching off the system; one or two percent, maybe? That's a pretty small number of people to occupy so much of the national dialogue don't you think?

Dok said...

@monie,

First, let me second the comments by Miss Jay.

Secondly, i don't think it was thier (Obama, Bill, et al) intention to just say, "you are lazy, do something". imo, they were trying to combat the rampant notion that "everything is the fault of the white man."

there is a balance to be struck between blaming others and realizing that you control most of your destiny.

Penni Brown said...

Just watching the previews for this show pissed me off!

Like everyone else, at first, I was glad to see them showing poor whites - to let folks know that it isn't just us that has a hard time of it.

Then, I realized that they are showing poor whites, in an isolated backwoods town. When they show poor blacks, they mostly focus on the ones that live near their office downtown or near their subway stop, basically bringing down the propery value of their rehabbed brownstone in that newly gentrified neighborhood.

The message is clear, poor whites exist, but, they're an isolated group that you don't come across everyday...and hey they want to do better but their circumstances are difficult.

But, those poor shiftless barely human negroes are everywhere...We can't escape them!

Antonio said...

This whole discussion makes me think about the meth epidemic that's ruining (white) communities all around the country. Law enforcement have been pretty aggressive in shutting down labs, although they keep springing up.

The parallels to the crack problems of the 80s are interesting. Cheap drug, dealers and addicts blatantly neglect children, devastating impact on the community, etc. But look at the difference in sentences handed down to perpetrators. On dealer was back on the streets after a year or two. Utterly appalling after mandatory sentencing sent black men and women to the big house for as many as 15 years. Sure they'll tell us some bullshit about how drug treatment has evolved or something, but if the majority of offenders were black or Latino would they be back on the streets so quickly? I don't think so.

msdailey said...

I watched about 15 mins or so before I became annoyed...mostly from some of the same things you listed!!!

Everyone has a story I guess, but I really didnt see the point in this one being told!!

So then 6 months from now Diane can do a follow up to see where they are now??

Who Cares?

MissJay said...

@Antonio

I agree with your post. They would not be back on the streets as quickly as others.

@Dok and Monie

Thanks for clearing that up for me. And you have a point that it does take up too much dialogue. But if there are people walking around talking about how "the man" keeps us down, there has to be a time where we get tired of using the same excuse and do something about advancing ourselves. Not to say that the majority of us don't. I see what you mean, Monie. So in a sense it's like Bill and errbody (couldn't resist LOL) are "preaching to the choir". We already know this, why continue to shove it in our faces like we don't see it everyday and don't hear it from other races/people.

meeshtastic said...

I missed this special, but I knew the gist of it would be what AB dicussed.

Interestingly, The Wrestler paints a very realistic picture of poor urban whites that I've never seen ever in a movie. You see it a little during season two of The Wire, but that's it really.

I wonder how a show about poor whites minutes from NYC would play for the GMA crowd?

the uppity negro said...

@Miss Jay

If you go down to New Orleans and other parts that the I-10 corridor runs through in Louisiana and east Texas, you'll see many black parents putting Pepsi in their kids bottles. As a result, the kids' teeth rot and of course they don't have dental insurance--so they put silver caps on three year olds.

I know this for a fact because I saw it personally, and I had a cousin who put silver caps on her three year old baby.

What was shown on this special was really just a "tranche de vie" for rural America. Many small towns in Appalachia, the old Rust Belt, and the former industrial South look like that--and it's a black and white issue--ultimately it's a poor people issue.

Kanye West would have been more on point if he had said "George Bush doesn't like poor people."

Ciara said...

The Uppity Negro states ..."Because let's just say when I drove up 95 this summer and saw the interstate cut straight through Chester, PA, I realised yet again how much of a systemic problem we have. "
-------------
This montrosity has been bothering me since I went back and forth to Philadelphia from Maryland. How in the hell can a INTERSTATE HIGHWAY be built in the middle of a residential neighborhood? Straight cuts the city in half? My father's response "Poor, Black people live here. That's how they can get away with doing something like this".

I might have to do some research on this to see how this situation played out because it's ridiculous. It's environmental racism if you think about it. People have to exhale all of those fumes and toxins from trucks, diesel, the whole nine. Shit's disgusting.

Ciara said...

*inhale

sorry...super-duper brain-fart.

AverageBro.com said...

@ Anonymiss

I wish Michelle Malkin would find some traffic to go play in. I really despise her. She's got an episode of P.I.S.D. already written in her honor.

It's okay for Joe The Plumber to benefit from asking Obama a question though, cause he's a Republican. Malkin even gave him a job. Not that kinda job, the war correspondent gig for PJTV.

@ Ciara

I was able to disconnect my brain long enough to appreciate the show for what it was: great storytelling, which is the hallmark of a good journalist. The problem was the lack of critical thought that made the whole thing seem like a story of victimhood. Sawyer got half the job right.

@ Durba

"..poor whites are ignored though encouraged to vote against their best interests based on class... Poor, dysfunctional, pitiful, and neglected whites are only trotted out when things (social decay and economic collapse) is truly desperate and creeping up closer to the striving Middle Class."

Well stated, my friend.

@ Dok

You already corrected yourself, but you are right. Blacks disproportionately suffer. No doubt about that.

@ Spool

Please be sure to write your GOP Congressman and tell him that.

@ Kirby

Exactly. You control the medium, you control the message.

Too bad the few truly black owned media outlets we have are too busy playing You Got Served reruns to provide any balance.

@ Uppity

True. Everyone cannot go to college and become an obstetrician. Someone has to mop the floors. Too bad there aren't enough pieces of the pie for everyone. That's just wrong.

I've always noticed 95 cut through Chester too, but never read anything into it.

@ Penni

Ditto. Something tells me that depicting white poverty as something suffered by a few backwards folks that live in the hills was somewhat intentional.

@ Antonio

Meth epidemic? What meth epidemic? What's Meth, besides a washed up rapper from Shaolin.

{sarcasm off}

Good points.

@ MsDailey

The story was shot over a 2 year period. There was a plea for financial help at the end of the show. I doubt you'll see a followup.

@ Meesh

Peeped The Wrestler. Great movie. It looked like the sort of rural poverty (black and white) that I grew up around.

ebonygentleman said...

I still have the 20/20 special on DVR, and it was a hoot, so to speak in extravagant reporting. I drank a lot of soda as a kid, but I still BRUSHED & RINSED. My God, if you can afford rivers of Mountain Dew for $1.50 a bottle, you can get basic toothbrush and toothpaste for THAT.

"The Wrestler" is basically the real life story of Jake "The Snake" Roberts turned into a film. I implore anyone to watch the documentary, "Beyond The Mat." It's dated now, but it's the same deal, drug use, pain and domestic problems that pro wrestlers face.

Anyway, since I work in retail, I deal first hand with those who are on government assistance. Every represented race is currently on Food Stamps and WIC, especially now because of the hard economy.

Every and I mean EVERY stereotype walks thru those doors where I work:

The multi-syllabic named black girl with the blue Child Support check in one hand and EBT card in the other.

The hispanic who can't speak a word of English, but can say "WIC" clearly and hands me 4 checks to receive free formula, milk, juice, cheese and eggs.

The middle-class whites who are now walking in and paying for food with the Food Stamp card and not thinking anything about it.

I even had one woman from New York who bought LOBSTER TAILS with her food stamp card.

Lobster tails.

The best meat I have in my fridge right now is chicken (and I'm grateful to be able to afford THAT.)

So yes, there is some truth to the endless stereotypes that persist in the USA among us. Hang around your local grocery store/superbox and see for yourself.

There is a reason why the stores are packed every first week of the month.

EG

i.l.l. said...

@AB and Ciara,

There really is something to the interstate routes and environmental racism. AB, I-94 was initially supposed to run down a commercial corridor, but somehow ran through a neighborhood. One of few mixed neighborhoods around, where black small business was quite common. This was in the 60's. If you are ever this way again, I can take you on a tour and show you how the interstate:
1) cut a community in two.
2) cut said community off from a number of growth opportunities being experienced just SIX BLOCKS SOUTH of the highway.

christin said...

this left me with a bad taste in my mouth as well, for some of the same reasons.

i am fed up with the conservative rhetoric that demonizes poor people. i'm willing to bet that less than %5 of people receiving any sort of welfare are doing so through illegitimate means or are intentionally entrenching themselves. but ronald reagan said it was so, therefore it must be true. ugh.

i do believe in a certain degree of victimhood by circumstance. there's a reason minorities and the poor lead much more unhealthy lives, for reasons mentioned above and more. crappy food is cheap, real grocery stores with fresh produce and less processed foods are hard to find in the ghetto or the mountains. decades of sequestering of poor neighborhoods near factories and environmental death traps like coal mines, combined with scarce access to regular medical care, have done their share of damage. there are many more factors that could be mentioned here.

i'm pretty liberal and in no way do i support the elimination of the "welfare state." however, it's maddening to see the mother from this show, or any mother, having huge numbers of children, especially without a truly willing father. where is he now? when she was the age i am now she already had 2 or 3 kids, while i have none. it is NOT that difficult to keep from getting pregnant. pull and pray if you have to, or exercise some self-control.

i can name offhand three or four different women i work with who have discussed with me their various situations with public assistance, and all but one had no intentions of finding a way to better themselves. they're lifers. they're white trash girls who will pop out a kid with a dude who already has 4 others with different moms. they've found every possible combination of food stamps, tax deductions, housing, daycare vouchers and subsidized medical care and have no shame in accomplishing very little for themselves. the octomom may just be the tip of the iceberg as far as the "welfare queen" rhetoric against white people goes, she's a shining example if nothing else. one person can make the whole system look bad. being poor is fine but being classless is inexcusable.

instead of a social worker just reapproving your paperwork once every six months why doesn't she sit down and help you plan a way out? the states and federal government found a way to ignore the problem by throwing money at it, but not enough, and not in the right methods to be effective. we don't need admonishment, we need someone who actively aids people in navigating the proper channels.

when i say "we," i do mean poor people in general. i'm poor as shit right now, even though i did all the "right" things by working and going to college. guess what? i still make $8/hour. maybe things will turn around for me when the economy rebounds, but i know that millions wont be as lucky. i just wish that all americans had a more sympathetic and productive view on the problem of poverty.


maybe there's a missing link here. an economics professor i had liked to remind us that 100% employment is not the ideal in a capitalist society. he never elaborated why.

ebonygentleman said...

Re: Highways & Black Residences

The same thing is happening where I live. US Highway 1 here in North Carolina was expanded to 4 lanes. The widening cut through the black neighborhood near where my wife and her family grew up in.

Some families living right on the road line were offered money from the state to have their backyards cut in half to make way for the roadwork.

Ironically, the widening STOPS just as you reach the rich white neighborhood here in my city. It goes back to 2 lanes, just as you enter that stretch of road.

A black church was torn down for the widening as well.

EG

spool32 said...

@uppity:

Just how many rich white men do you know, to make that sort of generalization?

Capitalism as a system isn't "designed" to select for anything except success at identifying markets and servicing them. What are they teaching you in school? I'm surprised to see your definition of "making it" too.

Of course it's not perfect, but the alternatives select even more strongly for only a few at the top, and those few have nothing to do with merit... while also providing dramatic disincentives for everyone else.

adinasi said...

The same attitude that had so many folk swooning over Obama like he was a Brotha from Another Planet (one of my favorite movies) created this documentary with the ignorant adjective 'Hidden.' You thought B-Rock was the best thing sliced bread because you didn't know Black folk like him existed. Or maybe because you spent your time around those 'power to the people' brothas and sistas in college who were smokin' there way through school vs. the ones who were deep in the libraries studying all hours of every day. Just as you didn't know Black folk like that existed, you didn't know poor, destitute whites existed. Hidden America? You didn't know West Virginia was a state, or parts of Louisiana weren't teeming with Black folk? If you're from southern Ohio, those folks call Kentukyians 'briars', which is essentially worse than trailer trash.
Ignorance knows all colors.

the uppity negro said...

@AB

When I was Philadelphia with my youth group this past summer with my internship for that week, we stayed in Fishtown. It was even eye opening for me because even I saw a difference face of poverty and it was clearly white--yet again, America is just anti poor.

Re: Highways and Interstates

Look at your average American city east of the Mississippi river, most highways dissect poor urban neighborhoods. Take the Dan Ryan on the South Side of Chicago that cut with clearly taking up one city block on each side. And even I-10 going over Claiborne avenue somewhat was detrimental to those black neighborhoods.

@spool32

I'm writing this on my phone, I'll respond when I get back to a computer.

the uppity negro said...

@spool32

I don't I nor anyone need to actually know any rich white males to know that the majority of CEO's in the Fortune 500 companies, our Congressional leaders both in federal and state levels are most white males who fall squarely into the upper middle class to upper class--dare say rich class of people.

I think too many of us, irrespective of race act as though this capitalist society in which we live in is a pure system. One need only look at a Bernie Madoff to realise that people cheat to get to the top--WAYYYYY to the top.

And I still stand by the argument that many of the people that have "made it" are the products of hard work and just plain ol' luck.

the uppity negro said...

@spool32

I don't I nor anyone need to actually know any rich white males to know that the majority of CEO's in the Fortune 500 companies, our Congressional leaders both in federal and state levels are most white males who fall squarely into the upper middle class to upper class--dare say rich class of people.

I think too many of us, irrespective of race act as though this capitalist society in which we live in is a pure system. One need only look at a Bernie Madoff to realise that people cheat to get to the top--WAYYYYY to the top.

And I still stand by the argument that many of the people that have "made it" are the products of hard work and just plain ol' luck.

Ciara said...

Because of this post, I have my topic for my senior thesis. Thanks AB! LOL!

spool32 said...

@uppity:

That's not the generalization you made. What you said was "...rich, white, straight males have a tendency to not care about poorer people--period."

Considering the level of charitable donating that comes from rich, white, straight males, and considering you apparently don't know any of them, you might want to rethink that generalization.

Not to mention the judgmental worldview I have to assume produced it.

the uppity negro said...

@spool32

Okay, I see your point.

However, I still stand by the ethos of what I said.

Charitable donation and philanthropic foundations still removes one's hands from getting dirty. One can still say that they are doing the right thing, but just throwing money at a situation without changing the structures that produced the problem--I'm just not all that impressed.

Okay, so Bill Gates sets up programs that give computers to inner city schools. First of all it's chump change what he's giving up. That's nice, but I'd be much more impressed if Bill Gates would lobbying for societal and governmental changes that allowed for inner city students to not have equal access.

That's what I meant, and I still stand by that comment.

spool32 said...

It's funny you mention Bill Gates. Far from just giving computers to inner city schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the 4th largest private charitable organization in the world. Since 1994 they've given away almost $20 Billion globally, on projects from small-farm productivity in Africa to microloans in impoverished nations to education grants for poor families to scholarships and library construction to clean water and sanitation research projects to global health initiatives and vaccine projects that have saved millions of lives.

But I guess since he ain't ladled enough soup at the local kitchen and he's not lobbying Congress for the government to change things in the ways you want, his hands aren't dirty enough for it to count? Please.

You should read Freakonomics sometime, or at least check out the chapter on the Chicago public school system. After looking at all the data generated by their lottery program, do you know what he found?

It's not whether or not you ended up at a "good" school that was the predictor of future educational success... it's whether or not you wanted to, even if you lost the lottery and stayed in your old one.

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Comments like yours prove the old joke: Conservatives think liberals have bad ideas... liberals think conservatives are bad people.

It's hard to take someone seriously when his argument boils down to "Because you don't tackle poverty through government intervention and in the ways I believe are right, you don't care about poor people.".

spool32 said...

And since when did "caring" become the yardstick we measure these things by anyhow? Whether they feel sad in their miserly withered hearts when they think about the poor, rich white men are actually doing huge amounts for them. A caring heart and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee, but it won't build an inner city library.

nemove said...

Having spent some time working with poor people in the Appalachian mountains and in cities there is a sense of helplessness found in urban areas (regardless of race) than doesn't exist for people in rural areas.

Kirby said...

@AB

Don't forget about TVOne. I feel that they do a pretty good job at programing. They have a lot of diverse images of us on their network. I wish it was more available.

the uppity negro said...

@spool32

Okay.

Again, I still stand by what I said: addressing the symptoms and not the problem doesn't make one a saint in my book. Just like the old idea about cough syrup--it does nothing but take care of the symptoms, but the virus is still in the body. It's easy for him to write a check and start a foundation, I would have much MORE respect for the these multi-millionaires and billionaires (Lawwwd) if they put their own reputations on the line to address systemic problems.

Even standing in a soup line, even if it was every week from someone who has the power (and money) to effect change would ring hollow with me. This isn't to say that I wish he no do what he does, but as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong, there's nothing that he's doing that moves us further down the continuum that addresses the structures as to WHY inner city kids don't have computers or WHY certain people in the world don't have adequate health care let alone clean water.

And still, again, Bill Gates is one person, what are the rest of some of these billionaires doing with what they got?

Real talk...

It sounds to me that you, and some other self-identifying conservatives act as if the playing field is level: it hasn't been for quite some time on the basis of class and race. Some conservatives would say that this same capitalist system provides for the people in Appalachia or the people in Southeast DC to work hard and they'd be alright and to take personal responsibility for their own actions and to not take advantage of taxpayers dollars through various gov't funded programs. But then turnaround and say that Joe-the-Plumber is a victim of Democratic maneuvering.

Once we, as a country admit that this capitalist playing field is skewed--lemme say it again--in favor of rich, white, heterosexual males, then perhaps we could address ways of how to change it.

spool32 said...

Well, considering the fact that Americans donate more money to private charities than the GDP of most European nations, I think rich white people are doing a hell of a lot already. Could some of them be doing more? Probably.

Is the fact that they aren't doing the things you think are good a reason to believe they hate poor people? Hell no.

To answer your specific concerns... I don't think Bill Gates can get rid of Robert Mugabe, but he can do something to teach people not to drink where they shit and develop cheap reliable methods of sanitizing their water supplies. Likewise, Gates can't fix poverty but he can help people find a way out of the trap, and he can't save every baby but he can at least make a dent in the worldwide death rate from shit we cured here fifty years ago.

Of course there are always winners and losers; that's life. You try and make it as fair as possible for those people who want to work at it, and those people who have the skills will often rise to the top. IMHO, when you're feeding your toddler effing Mountain Dew, it's probably an indicator that more forces are at work than just bad luck. Some people DO choose to fail, even while they claim otherwise.

You know what else I find amusing? Mugabe agreed with your opinion of how the system was skewed in favor of rich white men... so he levelled the playing field.

How's that working out for the average person, would you say?

Kevin Butler said...

This is an awesome article. I completely agree. The media (and hence, America), can't have it both ways. The same judgments have to apply to all people in a given circumstance, not just white folks or black folks. This is a very well-written article.

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